Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology


14.6.08
  That Ever Growing TBR Pile

I should get banned from Amazon.de for a few months, really. I buy way too many books which isn't good for my bank account (even with the excuse that the dollar is so weak I can get mass market paperbacks for 5 Euro, after all, they're not all mass market) and which makes me neglect my blog because I read too much. And authors should not be allowed to write anything longer than trilogies, lol.

So here I am with the first seven 800+page books of a ten book series, Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen. If you want your Fantasy epic, gritty, filled with dark magic and wonder, a wild romp that puts tropes on their head and has more unexpected turns than a single track road in Wales, that one's for you. George R.R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire) has grounded Fantasy in the harsh reality of a genuine Medieaval setting without the epic colours of Tolkien that overshine the blood and gore, and he has introduced characters that are decidedly grey and not black and white (Jaime Lannister is no Faramir, but he grows on me nevertheless, lol). Erikson goes a step further in darkening the characters, and in his world magic plays a more important role than with Tolkien (at least Lord of the Rings where Gandalf seldom uses his abilites; Silmarillion is another matter) or Martin. But magic doesn't solve problems, it causes them. As do a bunch of meddlesome gods.

I got me the first two books, Gardens of the Moon and Deadhouse Gates as travel reading, read the first and enjoyed it so much I bought the rest of the stock (Memories of Ice, House of Chains, Midnight Tides, The Bonehunters, Reaper's Gale). I'm halfway through the second now and still like the ride. And no 8, Toll the Hounds, will be out next month. The only disadvantage is that Erikson's books are among those that make me doubt my own abilities as writer. Martin does it as well, to some extent, but he often makes me go back and edit a scene, "damn, I can do better than that".

With only four books and a more recognisable part Medieaval-ish, part Rennaissance-ish world, Greg Keyes' Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone comes in a smaller scale, but after I read the blurbs and sample chapters on his website, I could not resist buying the books (The Briar King, The Charnel Prince, The Blood Knight, The Born Queen). Some reviews call the books Martin Lite, others say that doesn't do them justice. Well, I'll see for myself, and I'm sure they will be a better read than the Fantasy I abandoned or never got into (Eddings post-Elenium, the later Feist novels, Shannara, Wheel of Time, or Goodkind). The genre really has changed during the last years, albeit I think it's a pity that an increasing number of younger readers can't get into Tolkien; he's still one of the great masters of Fantasy.

Then there's Bloodheir, the second book of Brian Ruckley's Godless World trilgoy - I mentioned the first, Winterbirth, in this post. Another realistic Fantasy if that contradictio in adiecto is allowed. I liked the first well enough to buy the second in hardcover, and that doesn't happen too often. Get a warm blanket and a hot tea when you read it, there's a lot of ice and snow in his world.

Still sitting on my pile are Downie's Ruso mysteries (I didn't bring them along to Wales because I don't like to carry around more expensive books, they tend to get donkey ears despite me being careful), Rebecca Gablé's latest and two other German books, some of S. L. Viehl's Stardoc novels plus one of McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan omnibus editions, and Rosemary Sutcliff's Sword at Sunset - yay for that re-release; I was hunting down the book for ages without success.

And there will be more interesting books in autumn: Bernard Cornwell's Azincourt novel, Paul Kearney's The Ten Thousand, a heroic Fantasy in the style of David Gemmell based on the Anabasis, plus a two volume omnibus of his Monarchies of God (think Normans with an additional layer of badassness), another welcome re-relase since I couldn't get a complete set of the books anywhere. Now if only someone would reprint a bunch of Katherine Kurtz' Deryni novels in omnibus form. And Edith Pargeter's Brothers of Gwynedd tetralogy, since we're at it. ;-)

Edited to add because Jericho, PBW's cat, asked. Malazan Book of the Fallen has hounds. Boy has it ever.
 
Comments:
We'll expect full reports on all these books, of course. :)

You need to take up knitting, Gabriele, then you can agonize between blowing your money on 'new book' or 'new yarn'???
 
Gabriele

May I suggest putting the books in a book bag not your purse? :- )

Thanks for the recommendations. Work put me a flight so I bought a WEB Griffith thing. How can an action adventure spy novel be duller than a two flight?
 
I've been meaning to read Erikson for a bit - people keep recommending but so far I haven't got around to it.

I'm currently reading - and thoroughly recommend - Sergei Lukyanenko's Night Watch, Day Watch and Twilight Watch. Superb modern Russian fantasy.
 
Constance, I'm hopeless with anything that involves needles.

Hank, there are probably dull adventure spy novels as well as dull Fantasy, and popularity doesn't say anything about it. Naomi Novik's books sell like warm bread but I didn't manage to finish the first. Tastes vary.

Ian, I've heard about those. I may give them a look. After I'm through with the current TBR pile. ;)
 
I also wish Amazon would ban me! It would give my poor bank account the chance to recover a bit. ;)
 
How about getting a friend to log in to your account and change your password, then refuse to tell you the new one until you've read the backlog? That might work :-)
Very pleased to hear that Sword at Sunset has been re-issued - about time!
 
Keyes and Cornwell are both on the TBR list. The Sutcliff looks interesting, I have to go and see if I can find a copy. Hope you're having a good weekend. :)
 
Carla, since my friends are all avid readers as well, I don't trust them not to order books via my account. Some temptations are too great. :)

Ann, it is said by some that Sword at Sunset is the best retelling of the Arthur myth. Knowing most of her other books, it should at least be among the most interesting takes (though it will be hard to beat Cornwell's Warlord for me because of his battle descriptions).
 
I have to be honest, I didn't like Gardens of the Moon. I never got a sense of "place" or who was who. It seemed like the author assumed we were already familiar with his world and didn't bother to explain anything. It drove me nuts.

I LOVE George RR Martin's ASoIaF. I like that you have to work to like the protagonists and that you can't help but like the antagonists. :p
 
Meghan, for me it's the charme of Gardens of the Moon to start right in the middle of the mess. But it's not to everyone's taste.

And ASOIAF could do with less Sansa and more Jaime. *grin*
 
I've seen Steven Erikson's books in the store and thought they looked interesting. Sounds like a series I'll definitely have to start reading. I just finished reading Acacia by David Anthony Durham, and I enjoyed that one. It's more of the gritty, historical fantasy type as well. Also, I'm looking forward to Cornwell's Azincourt in the fall. Saw you mentioned that one in your post. I always enjoy his novels.
 
Oh, nice, more books - just what I need *credit card runs away, screaming in terror*

I've got Sword at Sunset lying on my bedside table, but first I have to struggle through James Brady's 900 page masterpiece "General chemistry - principles and structure". Yaay

Oh, btw, there's a bookstore in Trondheim which has a couple of Kurtz' books, dunno if these are the ones you're looking for but anyway, http://www.avalon.no/shop.cfm?path=2,713,1782
 
Lol, your credit card better gets used to it. :)

That site has the same Kurtz books I can get everywhere. It's the two I can only get if I sell the rest of my collection that are nowhere to be found for a decent price. ;)
 
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The Lost Fort is a blog based on my travels in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and other places (like Flanders and the Baltic States), with essays on Roman and Mediaeval history illustrated with lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes. You may also find the odd essay about geology or Mediaeval literature.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

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I'm a blogger from Germany with a MA in Literature and History which doesn't pay my bills, so I use it to research blogposts instead. I'm interested in everything Roman and Mediaeval, avid reader and sometimes writer, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, photographer, and tea aficionado. And an old-fashioned blogger who hasn't yet gotten an Instagram account. :-)


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